Ariz. grapples with parental consent for in-school dentistry

A bill introduced in Arizona would require companies that send dentists into schools to obtain two-step parent or guardian permission before the dentists proceed with treatments such as root canals, crown placements, or pulpotomies, according to an article in Arizona Republic.

HB 2426, sponsored by Rep. Doris Goodale (R-District 5), was crafted in part to respond to parents who complained they were unaware that their child was undergoing extensive dental work while in school.

Parental permission for in-school dentistry is already required under an existing law, but the new bill adds a second layer of consent, verbal or written and time-stamped, before "irreversible" procedures are performed. Most treatments other than cleanings and exams would fall under the requirement.

For-profit dental companies that visit schools have proliferated in the state, many aimed at treating low-income students. ReachOut Healthcare America, a Phoenix mobile dental company, contends that their service is necessary and provides treatment to those who would otherwise not receive it.

Goodale explained that the bill, which has been advanced by the House of Representatives' Health Committee, is designed to protect children. She also intends to push for greater communication between local dental practices and in-school providers to better coordinate continuing care needs.

Goodale's bill was guided in part by an Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners' stakeholder group.

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